We have all lost many, or all, of seeing friends and family, as we try to keep each other safe.

Lots of us have been forced into spending far more time with their people in our households. This can be stressful or even dangerous.

At a time when we all face ongoing uncertainty and worry about coronavirus, these stresses on our relationships are probably all the harder to cope with. So it’s worth trying to be extra patient and understanding, both with each other and also ourselves.

How to stay connected with people

There’s a wide variety of ways to keep in touch with people: phones, computers and the even good old snail mail. Hearing a friendly and familiar voice, or reading a message, helps us feel more connected. This is important for our mental health, especially for anyone living alone.

In the past 12 months lots of people have got to grips with Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp video, giving them another way to see a friendly face.

If you want to reach out beyond the people you already know, there are lots of supportive online communities, although it’s worth remembering they are not always safe places.

One supportive community for anyone experiencing problems with their mental health is Mind’s Elefriends.

Ideas to help us keep connected

Brew Monday

Brew Monday

Relationships are the cornerstones of our lives and enhance our sense of belonging and life satisfaction. Join the Five Ways Challenge today to receive tips, ideas and inspiration to connect with others.

Have an online hangout with a friend or loved one – see this BBC guide for information on how to video call.

You may find you’re spending more time than usual scrolling on social media – have you ever thought how this could be affecting your mental health?

Think about unfollowing or muting accounts that make you feel anxious, upset or angry.

Find positive accounts that boost your mood and share your interests, and use social media to make meaningful connections with those you love.

If you love a good book, why not start a virtual book club with friends or family? Using a video calling service, such as Skype or Zoom, you could share summaries of various books, or read and discuss the same title. Millions of books can be downloaded online, for example, on Google Books or Open Library, or you could use a Kindle, if you have one.

You could alternatively join one of many online book clubs, such as Good Housekeeping’s online book club and the Rebel Book Club.

Even in lockdown, you can take a cultural trip to the museum or theatre.

With hundreds of theatre, comedy, and ballet performances being released online, you and your friends can watch the same shows and review them later. The English National Ballet, the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe are just a few examples of companies sharing free performances with the public. You might want to video call while you watch them, so you can talk about them in real time.

You can also take the opportunity to feel more connected with the local community, and culture, by exploring Google’s art and culture collection. The compilation offers virtual tours of more than 500 top worldwide attractions.

Watch movies in sync with your friends. If you have Netflix or Disney Plus, you can download the Disney Plus Party, and Netflix Party Google Chrome extensions, allowing you to play and pause movies at the same time.

Getting involved in local efforts to support people who are more vulnerable during the pandemic is good for you. Take a look at out Give back page.

Have we missed something?

If there’s something you feel we need to add to these resources, please get in touch.

Let us know